Corbyn, who was elected Labour leader on Saturday (12 September), has elected Lisa Nandy to head up the shadow Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Kerry McCarthy to lead the shadow Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

The announcement follows the stepping down of a number of Labour members – including former Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Caroline Flint – as that they were not willing to serve on the Party’s front bench alongside Corbyn.

Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary Nandy – the MP for Wigan – was previously the shadow Cabinet Office Minister for Civil Society with responsibility for charities, youth policy, public service reform and lobbying.

Indeed, her public comments on energy policy are nearly non-existent, so it remains to be seen how she will advance Corby’s energy manifesto which includes a commitment to a clean energy economy and binding commitments on climate change.

New DEFRA chief

Meanwhile, Shadow Environment Secretary McCarthy – the MP for Bristol East – seems a more fitting appointment, having previously been vocal about the need for supermarkets to take more responsibility for food waste.

McCarthy is also the sponsor of the Food Waste (Reduction) Bill, which last week was progressed to a second reading in Parliament. The Bill aims to force supermarkets to donate unsold food to charity, much like recent French legislation.

The Bill would also set ambitious food waste targets in line with EU & UN guidelines, and require Government to review current incentives which make it beneficial to sell food nearing its use-by date for anaerobic-digestion rather than redistribution.

According to the McCarthy’s own website, her main areas of policy interest are the economy, tackling poverty, international aid and trade, transport and crime and justice.

Green means go

The two women were immediately greeted with a lengthy list of priorities from eco-charity Friends of the Earth.

The campaign group’s chief executive Craig Bennett said: “These are crucial appointments if Jeremy Corbyn is to deliver on his pledge to make tackling climate change and protecting our environment a top priority.

“Clear and forceful opposition to dirty coal and short-sighted government plans to unleash fracking on communities around the UK must be one of the first tasks facing Lisa Nandy. We won’t tackle climate change if we don’t end our addiction to dirty fossil fuels. 

“Labour must also stand up for the tens of thousands of people whose jobs are under imminent threat because of Conservative plans to decimate the UK’s solar industry – and be a real champion for energy efficiency and the UK’s huge renewable energy potential. 

“Our natural environment is in real jeopardy from a Government that too often fails to put its interests first. Any proposals to allow farmers to use pesticides that are known to be harmful to bees must be fiercely fought by Kerry McCarthy.

“In the face of a concerted government onslaught against our environment, we need opposition parties to stand up for people and the planet like never before. 

“Corbyn must make Labour the greenest opposition ever.”

Brad Allen

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